Opinions

Holidays are for the nine-to-fivers

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The Aug. 5-7 weekend was a long weekend. Especially, no doubt, for those of you who, like us, had to work on the "holiday" Monday. A long weekend indeed.

This might date the Gauntlet editorial board, but most of us can remember when grocery stores, bars, restaurants, et cetera were closed on statutory holidays. Now, one can buy nearly anything one could possibly desire on a holiday, from crispy bacon to frilly brassieres.

A cursory glance at the people who work holidays--construction workers, service industry workers, nurses, bus drivers, cab drivers, et cetera--reveals a diverse segment of society that might fairly be classified as "working class" or "blue-collar" and, rightly or wrongly, includes a lot of university students in summer jobs.

Let's overgeneralize--this is a lower-income segment of society. The people who arguably need a holiday the most--due to stress connected with lower incomes, less job satisfaction, and shiftwork--work on the days when Joe Executive is out trout-fishing with the spouse and kids.

Even five years ago, it seems, fewer people had to work on holidays. And it wasn't that long ago when stores wrestled with the question, "Should we stay open on Sundays?"

Not anymore. No day is too sacred to avoid feeding the capitalist beast. Be it a religious holiday (Christmas), secular (Labour Day), commemorative (Remembrance Day) or just plain festive (New Year's Day) the stores are open, the roads are clogged and people act just like any other weekday. Consume, consume, consume.

We'll concede that not everyone should be given holidays off. Police, firefighters, pharmacists, and doctors are essential services and shouldn't begrudge having to work those days. But do we really need to rent videos on holiday Mondays? Do we really need to go to Boston Pizza? Can't the groceries wait until another day?

Well, no, because we're a society that places a lot of value on instant gratification, and the victims of such an obsession are typically those working stiffs who have to provide instant delights such as 24-hour copy services and pizza delivery.

As it is in the rest of society, holidays are becoming territory that clearly illustrates two of the crappiest aspects of our society: our obsession with consumerism and the widening gap between rich and poor.

What would we suggest? Surely not an end to holidays. Rather, in an ideal world, shops would close on statutory holidays, bus service would be scaled back dramatically or eliminated, restaurants would stay shut for the day, and rich and poor would frolic like bunnies in their parks and backyards, celebrating in their own way the rewards that are supposed to come from a hard day's work.

But will this happen? Probably not. The pursuit of the perfect shopping experience is hard enough without taking a couple of days' rest. Why not celebrate and encourage the divisions and evils inherent in our society 365 days a year?

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